ARMONK, N.Y., March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) will be helping at least 16 cities and counties around the world this year to address issues ranging from clean water, healthy food, and revenue generation, to job development, efficient transportation, and public safety.
To that end, IBM today named recipients of its Smarter Cities Challenge for 2014, a competitive grant program that sends teams of some of IBM's most talented experts to select cities and regions worldwide to provide expertise on the most critical issues faced by communities today. For these pro bono consultative engagements, IBM teams invest months studying a local issue chosen by a winning municipality. They then spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analyzing all relevant data and reports, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the factors involved and potential solutions to the opportunity at hand. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for addressing the issue in line with recognized "best practices." This is followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation. Smarter Cities Challenge was originally conceived in 2011 as a three-year grant program, but highly positive feedback and significant results have encouraged IBM to extend the initiative. In its first three years, IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge deployed 600 experts on six-person teams that provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities. These highly prized three-week engagements, each currently valued at USD $500,000, have helped local government address key challenges. Given that effective local governance today relies on the coordination of multiple municipalities, IBM made regional governments eligible for the grant program this year, not just cities. With the previous participation of 100 cities, the Smarter Cities Challenge program now also offers winning municipalities access to fellow leaders with whom to consult on similar issues, so as to share strategies that have been effective elsewhere.